Junior outside hitter Elyse Burkert’s 23 kills wasn’t enough to lift the Owls over Miami (OH) in the team’s final match of the Miami (OH) Invitational.
The RedHawks capped off the tournament with the crown, winning all three matches against Indiana State, Chicago State and Temple. The loss snaps the Owls’ three-game winning streak and puts them at 6-4 on the season.
A win would have made them the tournament champions.
“That was definitely something we thought about, we talked about it, and we were all very pumped for that game because we knew this was the last match of the tournament,” senior libero Chelsea Tupuola said.
“[Miami (OH) is] huge,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “Very physical team. Some coaches like certain types of players. They play a certain style, it’s very, very physical. We were looking forward to playing this team because we wanted to play this team.”
Burkert, who barely missed out on her sixth straight double-double with nine digs, and Tupuola, who had 34 digs in the loss, were named to the all-tournament team.
“I knew I had to be smart and not aggressive,” Burkert said. “I could be aggressive and just get blocked and the ball would go straight down.”
The Owls fought hard in the first set, losing in extra points, 27-25. Another tough battle saw the team overcome an early deficit before taking the second set 25-23.
But Temple was never able to maintain the momentum, dropping the final two sets 22-25 and 18-25.
“”It could have gone either way,” Ganes said of the third set.”That’s definitely the set that really hurt us.”
“I think Miami (OH) was just able to finish some plays,” he added.
Junior outside hitter Gabriella Matautia notched 12 kills and 10 digs for the Owls. Ganes said the team is still trying to get her into a rhythm and expects her to break out soon.
Sophomore setter Tiffany Connatser dished out another 45 assists along with five kills and 11 digs.
The team’s .185 hitting percentage wasn’t enough, however. The RedHawks hit .250 on the night and got double-digit kills from two players as well.
“It was a lot of fun playing defense against that, because we are going to face that in [Atlantic 10 Conference season],” Tupuola said.
The Owls have just four days off before they return home for the first time this season to host New Jersey Institute of Technology on Wednesday night. They remain home to host the Temple Invitational two days later.
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.